#YesAllWomen but #NotAllMen

AbbyDefaultAbby Hevert ’15

This past May, near the University of Santa Barbara in California, a shooting/stabbing rampage occurred, killing six students. The young man who killed these people will not be named here, for I believe that the name of the perpetrator is one that should not live on, in infamy or otherwise. The perpetrator had a vendetta for the “hottest sorority house” on the UCSB campus, which was filled with members who, allegedly, rejected his sexual advances. He, therefore, brought a gun and knife to the surrounding area of the school, which he did not attend, in order to “slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up blond slut,” of this particular sorority. The perpetrator ended up taking the lives of six people, four men and two women, before he took his own life.[1] Political discussions then filled news networks about gun control and gender-based violence. The familiar dialogue about misogyny was once again reignited, and a “hash tag” was developed for tweets about men who were, really, not bad men. #NotAllMen was trending on Twitter in defense of the good men who are respectful of women. A new hash tag, #YesAllWomen, was then developed to express that all women do experience sexism, the effects of misogyny, or harassment at some point in their lives. So, who is right? Is it true that not all men are really bad? Or do all women really experience the effects of sexism and misogyny? Well, since I identify as a woman, I guess I’ll start with my story.

Many days on my walk to work in London, a large group of men would yell at me.

“Here is the address to my bedroom. Hosting a party there on Saturday.”

“Where you going in such a hurry? Come back here.”

Well, I was going to work. I was going to work at a domestic violence and rape crisis center where I would take calls from women who were victims of the men who reduced their personhood to objects that they could use, hurt, and abuse. The irony of it all was stunning: I would tell women on the phone that their abuse shouldn’t be tolerated. And here I was, in a foreign city, unable to say anything to the men who disrespected me, albeit never physically abusing me, for fear that I would be hurt or kidnapped or raped. I would then spend hours of my day listening to stories of men who would do evil things to the women who trusted them. So, I do think that I can confirm that most, if not all, women do experience sexual harassment at some point in their lives. The #YesAllWomen hash tag, as far as I am concerned, does in fact capture the female demographic. One day while I was in London, one of my friends asked me: “does your job make you, like, hate men?”

My honest answer: “No. I mostly love men. Most guys are good guys.”

And I still stand by that statement. Too often, too many of us women talk about how “terrible” men can be. And yeah, men can be pretty terrible. They are definitely capable of doing awful things, and women are more likely to get abused, sexually and physically, than men. Those are the facts.[i] The men who perform the unthinkable do not need praise; they deserve defamation. But, do you know the group of guys who receive too little of our attention?

The good guys: they deserve our attention too.

I have lived a very blessed life and I have to say that I have never once been abused, threatened, or even pressured to do anything sexually, with which I was not comfortable. The men in my life are mostly stellar. My dad loves my mom and I more than anything; he believes in our abilities and loves to learn things from us. My brothers admire me and love to chat about music and politics with me because they respect my opinion. My male friends are incredible as well: they not only root for me, but they appreciate my sense of humor and my talents that stretch beyond the boundaries of our friendship. And, yeah, I do meet the occasional creep at a bar, but I have ten good men in my life to make up for the not-so-good ones who make the brief appearances. Men are there to laugh with me, to cheer me on, to teach me to be a better human, just like I can help them become better. As a heterosexual woman, I firmly believe that men can help me reach my full capacities as a person. We all need each other: men, women, transgendered people, and those who choose not to identify with gender. I am better because of every person in my life, I can promise you that.

And, to the women and girls who are reading this article who have endured abuse, hurt, and heartbreak from the men in their lives: I am truly sorry. Nothing can render your experiences null. You are survivors and those men do not deserve our acclaim. You, instead, deserve my respect, admiration, and enduring praise. It is completely understandable if you are skeptical of the gender that has caused you so much pain and it is not my place to persuade you; it is only my place to support you.

But to all of the great men out there, you deserve the attention more than the anomalies of your gender that do the dishonorable. So, to all of the standup guys: I raise my cup to you. I find faith in you. I support the #NotAllMen initiative as well because you have filled my life with so much joy and, so, I can also confirm that not all men are capable of murder, misogyny, or even blatant sexism.

Hell, I make mistakes every day. So does the rest of my gender. We really are all just imperfect humans trying to move forward. But most of us girls are good. Most people are good people, men included.

So, yeah: I love guys. Most guys are good guys.

[1] http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/24/justice/california-shooting-deaths/

[i] http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/statistics/

Safety, Security, and the Pursuit of Happiness

shoot3Matthew Henry Smith, ’16

“I almost felt unsafe,” said Father Shanley, recounting his tale of coming upon this year’s Golf Party and having to weave his vehicle into a nervous caravan of cars winding through a sea of pastel students up the Eaton Street hill. He told this story yesterday to the 65th PC Student Congress in response to a question about student safety concerns in the neighborhood.

What are we doing to address safety problems in the neighborhood?

On Sunday night my fella, Allen, and I were talking via Google Hangout. He recently left the east coast for Law School in Chicago. During our conversation he looked at me and said, “I thought of you when I received this,” and he showed me a pamphlet from his orientation program. Titled Living in the City, the pamphlet’s cover showed two hip-looking white guys posed like they were headed out for adventure. It looked, perhaps, like an instruction manual for urban living, as if it would tell you how to get to the nearest IKEA, where to find the best Thai food and who the hottest underground bands were.

But that’s not what the pamphlet contained. Inside were the numbers to the campus police, the shuttle service, the safety escort program and so forth. Largely, it was information about how to stay safe, insulated, defensive, and where to go to react to crime. It told a very specific story about how to live in the city, in his new community. Allen asked me, “So, what do you think I should do to engage my new community?”

He asked me this because it’s what I study here at PC and, just a week before this conversation, I had been invited to speak with my brother, John, for a group of high school seniors about community engagement. The Lincoln School is an independent, Quaker secondary school for young women on the East Side of Providence, and the group of students in the seminar were about to begin applying to colleges. Like Allen, they wanted to know how to become involved in the communities at their new schools. I asked them how they had engaged in their communities in the past:

“I worked in a food pantry,” said one.

“I volunteered at a hospital,” said another.

“I organized a clothing drive,” said a third.

I told the Students at Lincoln School what I told Allen: they best way to engage a new community is to live there. Really live there. Traditional service to your community is a noble endeavor but you can’t adequately serve a community until you’ve experienced what it has to offer. If we isolate ourselves in new places we invite misunderstanding. Plus, there’s lots of different ways to support a community once you’ve gotten to know it and one important way is to spend money in it.

What does this have to do with PC? We do quite a bit to report crimes in communities and seek criminal justice, but we often don’t do as much work to network with our communities before crimes happen. At Providence College we don’t pass out pamphlets like they do at Allen’s school, but we still have some of our own inadequate practices for teaching students how to engage the community, just like any college that the young women of Lincoln School will attend will have some of their own.

We have a knack for showing our newest brothers and sisters only the amenities that will appeal to traditional upper-class sensibilities. In the orientation program this year we offered first year students the opportunity to go for a walk in the community, but this was an option to choose versus a trip to Providence Place Mall or Thayer Street. Pitching a walk in the community was a hard sell because PC has only just begun to think about Smith Hill differently.

There has been tremendous administrative leadership on this front, as well as the leadership of some students, but most new students are still interpreting the message as “Okay, this is the neighborhood where you ‘do service’” and separately “This is the neighborhood you spend money and have fun.”

This is a damaging dichotomy.

One way to decrease violence is to increase prosperity. But if we live beside Smith Hill and spend all of our money at La Salle Bakery, Thayer Street, Federal Hill, and the mall, we are not helping to sustain the very local economy. When we spend outside of our communities they weaken.

When Fr. Shanley was speaking to Student Congress, his took a question about student safety concerns and turned it into a challenge for our student body. Safety problems in the neighborhood are a two way street and our President gets that. But do are students? I’m not saying that our traditions – like Golf Party – need to be left behind, but we should think about how we execute them. Father Shanley’s anecdote posits the question, “Have we considered how intimidating we may be to our neighbors?”

And if you’re not up for a community-motivated metanoia, just remember:

Yes, you are a resident of Providence and not just this neighborhood, but every time you go to Thayer Street as a Providence College Student you are borrowing the hangouts of Brown and RISD students. They will never be our own. Douglas Avenue is one of the last commercial spaces in Providence to develop, and it is developing right now while maintaining all of the historic charm and architectural integrity that makes this city so attractive. You could have Thayer Street amenities with a Smith Hill twist if you’re willing to spend more time and money here than there.

Friars, you are experiencing the four year process of becoming a “local” yourself. You can vote here, and that should matter to you. So compost with the community at Frey Florist. Pray with the community at St. Pat’s or the Pentacostal Churches or the Baptist Churches. Break bread with the community at the Common Grounds Café.

We are more than liquor stores and crime alerts. I believe that. Our administration believes that, and that’s why they’ve helped to create Common Grounds and partnered with the Smith Hill CDC. If you’re ready for a safer, more economically developed community then it’s time to make these connections.

Friends, we need to meet our neighbors where there’s common ground and start putting our money where our off campus houses are.

Ending Homelessness in Rhode Island

default10:6:14Lexi Moubarak ’15

How often do you think about homelessness? Probably not very often. And you aren’t alone. Prior to my internship with Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless (RICH), homelessness rarely crossed my mind. I mean for God’s sake, there are so many horrible things going on in the world. How can we keep track of everything? Between the ISIS beheadings, the shooting of Michael Brown, and the first case of Ebola in the US, homelessness hasn’t been the flashing headline on CNN and BBC.

But according to data done by the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, last year there were 4,447 homeless people in Rhode Island. Families make up forty one percent of this number. This is a social injustice currently facing the state we all proudly call home. The most successful initiative to end homelessness has been to house people first, and then provide necessary services and employment. Housing first works. Only 5 to 10 percent of people housed first end up back on the street. Rhode Island has just applied to a campaign called zero2016; to end chronic and veteran homelessness by 2016!

And here is how YOU can get involved. On the nights of Nov. 10, 11, and 12 from 6-9pm we will be sending groups out across the state to assess every homeless person. It is called Registry Week and we need volunteers to join. It is OK if you can only participate in one or two nights. I am going to be holding a training session in the coming weeks on campus for all the student participants. We will be using a tool called the VI-SPDAT to assess the homeless.  It is a series of questions, requiring about 8 to 10 minutes per person, to help us rank the homeless on a vulnerability index.  This way we know who is the most vulnerable for dying on the streets and needs permanent housing first.

I know it is a commitment to give up a valuable weeknight. But, besides the fact that participating will look great on a resume, I PROMISE you this will be a rewarding and humbling experience. We need all the citizens of Rhode Island to get involved and help us end homelessness. It is already starting to get so cold out. I was out a few Fridays ago doing homeless outreach. It was only mid-September and I was cold in my sweatshirt. Walking around downtown handing out bus tickets, I couldn’t imagine sleeping on the streets that night, let alone sleeping outside in December. Registry Week is our best shot for getting the homeless registered so we can start moving them into permanent housing. And who doesn’t deserve a warm bed and bathroom?

Register to Volunteer with Zero2016 Registry Week Here

Friarside is Back: Relaunch Week

It’s been a quiet month for Friarside Chats as we’ve settled into a new and busy academic year, but we are back and eager to write. This school year, Friarside Chats will continue its mission of both sparking and engaging in dialogue on campus and community issues. We will highlight our community’s achievements while not fearing to constructively evaluate our shortcomings. We will aim to be a crossroads of diverse perspectives. We will share our honest convictions, and we will learn along the way. As always, you are invited to join in this ongoing project.

Over the course of the week, stay tuned for new posts, features, and the debut of new regular contributors. Here’s to a fruitful third year of Friarside Chats! Thank you for your continued readership.